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Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: jeffsjo ()
Date: August 19, 2010 07:43AM

Hi everybody.

I'm relatively new to this site but I certainly appreciate the overall atmosphere here so far. I have participated often for a few years at another site concerning recovery from a specific cult that is run by folks who are ex-cult members of the same cult. Oftentimes I notice patterns that seem like the MAY BE attributable to the fact that even though people have left a cult they socialize together and still have certain group behavioral traits such as: how they follow the leader, how they respond to criticism, how they seek to establish and maintain their credibility within the group, how they choose silence and rejection instead of engaging potentially useful topics, cult learned verbal cues still govern their choices and social behavior.

This list is not intended as criticism. I deliberately choose to present this as only my opinion or even just a simple consideration.



Is there any free or nearly free resources available that could specify the risks vs. the potential gain of ex-cult people hanging out together that a layman such as myself may appreciate. I would be happy with an ongoing conversation if I could do so without accusing anybody and also if it happened to be in regular conversational English. (This post is about as academic a tone as I can manage?)

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 20, 2010 10:20AM

Well, the potential gain of people who have experienced cult involvement hanging out together is the ability to compare notes and experience, share knowledge that helps etc.

I personally don't see that there are any particular risks involved as 'ex-cult people' are not some separate breed, they are regular people who have been tricked and bamboozled by a con. We are all vulnerable to that by virtue of being human.
Ex-cult people need time to untangle the confused thinking that the con worked so hard to instil and they need freedom from some other shyster trying it on while they do that.

Unfortunately the world is full of shysters trying it on, it comes with the territory of group dynamics to which we are all
subject, humans being social animals that cannot exist in isolation.
If you read a bit here you will realise that cult dynamics closely follow any group dynamic and the abuses that go on in cults have a parallel in non cultic relationships such as battered wives and workplace bullying.
Its about one person coercively dominating another and as such is a human problem. Cults just set out to deliberately maipulate our best impulses for the cult-leaders benefit.

As ex-cultees we cannot isolate ourselves from the world but we can learn to deal with the world and its myriad cons a bit better.

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: jeffsjo ()
Date: August 22, 2010 12:48AM

Hi Stoic,

Everything you say is born out by my own experience as well. But in my case there are a couple of situations that make this general info just groundwork. The people and situations that I am considering involve real people and individual complications.

Unfortunately I may be able to only get here every few days at best for a while. I will certainly consider how to follow up on this conversation later and do so when my time is not so limited as it is now.

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 22, 2010 05:33AM

If you can be a bit more specific about the individual complications---without identifying any real people by name or too close a description, I am sure that the massive, collective experience of people on this board can at least point you in a helpful direction.

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: jeffsjo ()
Date: August 24, 2010 02:31AM

I'll give it a try Stoic. Saturday I had my bored seven-year-old hanging on me.

The small cult I represents a very intense period of time in my life. I'll just talk about some of the next younger generation from mine for right now.

My entire time in my little cult was marked by me being labeled as some kind of monster by my former cult leader. ("jeffsjo" and a "google search" is all anyone needs to find my profile and "my story" at the aforementioned web-site)

Since I've been out I've come to realize better how deeply what most folks consider brainwashing can run because of my attempts to talk to people. Even though my former cult leader was outed as a sexual predator after I got kicked out I am still considered the bad guy, or nonspiritual, or called bitter, or just ignored like the proverbial hot potato by my former acquaintances.

The younger generation is for the most part being led buy this guy's oldest son. He controls their opinions, and lobbies support and consensus from them in almost exactly the same manner he saw his dad play them. (I actually believe that his sociopath dad TAUGHT HIM how to do it.)And while we talked it was eerie to me how he used EXACTLY the same words his dad used to keep me in line, playing upon the facts that I have no goal of running any such group (like they do) and generally desire to help, with a heavy dose of the same scoffing his dad used to manipulate everybody's opinions when we considered him the apostle, and some still do consider him to be.

I feel for these kids because even though this guy's son directs them as his dad did he seems outwardly to be leading them to an entirely different place. And I believe because they have never, ever know another kind of authority than the kind this kid offers them that the chances of them seeing through this con-job is pretty minuscule.

It seems to me that as long as these kids and my peers remain uncommunicative and believe the things about me that they have been led to believe ( ie..anti-Christ, false prophet, pervert, bitter, nonspiritual, outdated, dinosaur: just to name a few) that my chances of helping them are at best virtually nonexistent.

I hope that maybe someday that they may just say, "Remember what Jeff said? I guess he was right about how badly we were conned and lied to by the bastards!" But in the mean time it appears that they have been successfully programmed (socialized) into rejecting me and that wall at present seems insurmountable for me to get through......sigh.

And otherwise, I do believe that after a long period of time being taught how to exist in a cult it may be that when culties get together they may be vulnerable to another cult leader, especially if he/she knows the verbal cues and mannerism that had them snookered in the first place. Just as a victim of domestic abuse may tend to get into one abusive relationship after another. Except in my experience a group think that several families have in common can be even tough to break and/or redirect than one person prone to picking the wrong mate.

And even if they happen to not be prone to another cult leader IMO it may well be that the cliques they develop will often resemble some of their cult lifestyle when it comes to how they organize and function among themselves. But this is not the worst case scenario that getting into another cult is, but can be plenty annoying to hear them respond to the same group prodding and probably stifling to their personal development IMO.

I'll be back later.

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: cyndee ()
Date: September 09, 2010 10:10PM

I hear ya Jeffsio,I hate ALL Cults in general.

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: jeffsjo ()
Date: September 12, 2010 01:00AM

Y'know what Cyndee, I agree with the sentiment of hating cults when it comes to destructive practices.

I hate em when I see folks fall into the same trap time after time.

I hate em when I perceive that a leader has obviously hidden agendas and lies to cover up true objectives.

I hate em when I feel that old feeling of silence, rejection and/or censure while folks are being conned and misled.

I hate em when I see folks all wide-eyed and exited about some nasty sociopath's doctrine which inevitably lead them into being victimized.

But these failing are common human errors that happen even when the label of "cult" doesn't apply too. For me it seems better to focus on how members are treated, how the leaders act, watching for the fruit that can not be hidden but may be ignored.

The DEFINITION of the word "cult" can be problematic so I usually avoid overly long discussion and try to focus on perceiving exactly "what a group is producing", or in ancient terminology...."You shall know them by their fruit."

One of the hard parts for me is realizing that sometimes in a free society you have to wait to see the fruit which to me necessitates letting them ruin peoples' lives.

But a society that does not allow freedom of conscience may be it's very own cult...North Korea comes to mind as one example.

Since we people are naturally social creatures I sometimes wonder if some form of cultism (hopefully not destructive in nature) is a natural state.

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: LLG ()
Date: September 12, 2010 04:21AM

Hi jeffsjo,

I am also right now struggling with the same thing I think you are driving at. I recently left a cult and want to have support from people who understand what its like (my family has been supportive so far but I think some are getting "bored" of the issues I'm still working through) but where I live there are no groups like this in my area. Really my only option I believe is an internet run support group but I'm leerie about joining another group especially one on the internet because the cult I was in was an internet cult. I'm not sure how to know if it is safe to join one of these groups and if I will be more vulnerable after the experience I just came out of.

If anyone knows of any safe online support groups for ex-cult members I would appreciate your suggestions.

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: yasmin ()
Date: September 12, 2010 06:25PM

Hi LLg, i know that John Knapp runs affordable/sliding scale interent cult recovery groups from time to time. He is an ex tm governer, a licensed counselor/social worker and runs the TM free blog. you cna check him out there. He is very good at helping people work through their issues, and has helped a lot of people.
Also, Joe Szimhart, a well known exit counselor does telephone consulting. Nice and easy to talk to. ISCA i think provides telephone consults with exit counselors as well.
i think Steve Hasssan is known to be very good,does telephone work sometimes, but I have heard it can be pricey.I think he has his fees on his website.
if you go online and look around you can get a feel for different peoples' styles and approaches and find something you feel comfortable with. In my own opinion, talking to a counselor who understands the issues can be extremely helpful.
good luck with everything, all the best, Yasmin

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Re: Group dynamics of ex-cult members after leaving a cult?
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: September 12, 2010 10:48PM

'Since we people are naturally social creatures I sometimes wonder if some form of cultism (hopefully not destructive in nature) is a natural state.'

I think, in the early years after cult involvement, it is only too easy to see malign cult activity around every corner--since we are still raw from being caught by it and sensitised to be suspicious of being caught again.

It is a process of regaining confidence in your own ability to discriminate, which was previously undermined, and that takes time and a lot of personal examination and sorting out--a good counsellor who understands specific cult issues can be a great help.

Most therapists who deal with cult survivors agree that the personal cult involvement needs to be addressed first, before getting into the wider social implications and family of origin dynamics that may have contributed to the persons vulnerabilities to cult recruitment.
I think that is a sensible course, as the problems arising are personal and current and those are the one's that you might have some control over and options to change.

I ponder the same general questions but I know that if I get too involved in the cultic aspects of North Korea or other peoples problems--over which I have no control--it is usually a sign that whatever is bugging me about those things I can't control is really more to do with a personal lack of understanding of something going on in my own life.
I can't do much about North Korea or the many injustices of the world but sometimes the pondering throws some light on my own situation in a way that allows me make some progress.
Finding someone knowlegeable about cult issues to discuss these things with makes the pondering a lot easier as that person can be a bit more directive at keeping the focus on yourself (holding your feet to the fire in the kindest possible way) rather than letting the subject get so wide as to encompass world problems that none of us can have a hope of individually influencing.

Of course, once you have back your confidence in your own discrimination and a willingness to back that up with critical arguments, you can let rip and be the scourge of North Korea or anything else in the world that you disagree with.
Freedom of thought and speech can be exhilarating, but you really do need to sort the personal stuff first as otherwise it is all too easy to be drawn into the next plausible idealistic idea that presents itself--to your personal detriment once again.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2010 10:54PM by Stoic.

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